Re: RARA-AVIS: Has anyone changed noir writing (lately)?

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 16 Mar 2007

At 06:21 PM 15/03/2007, you wrote:

>I think Terrill nailed it.
>Granted, I may not read as much "noir" fiction as some of you but I
>don't actually see much change in it, beyond a growing popularity
>that apparently has as much to do with nostalgia as anything.

But as a group, Rara Avians have a strong attraction to a form that preceded ourselves even as individuals. We are traditionalists, and inclined to discount new offshoots as not being the real thing. Someone recently declared a strong dislike for too many pop-cultural references in a discussed work, for instance, dismissing it as so much po-mo quackery. We don't like po-mo here, though there's no reason a story cannot be po-mo and noir at the same time, so far as I can tell.

Anyway, I thought the suggestion of Motherless Brooklyn as indicting a different direction was good. It used the hard-boiled vernacular of an orphaned Tourrette Syndrome sufferer to tell a dark story about how culture itself works. Using the crime writing form to investigate cultural obsessions is also part of Paul Auster's style, in The New York Trilogy. The difficulties of investigating meaning from the inside is an advance, if not an innovation, though the Trilogy goes back to the 80's and maybe doesn't qualify as recent. It maybe doesn't qualify as influential either, at least in our circle.

The other thing is that television and cinema long ago displaced written text as the popular means of consuming fiction, but Rara Avis restricts itself to books, discussing telly & the flics only in connection to published text. It seems probable that new directions might appear in the undiscussed media first, and then in books. Certainly there has been a long-standing trend in printed fiction to adopt styles that suit generations accustomed to receiving information via electronic media. The short-hands and vernaculars seem to get explored there first. Mostly. I think.

Oh god! We're just a bunch of old fogeys!

Sorry, Kerry

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